I love living in Melville because it’s a walkable neighborhood. However, “walkable” is a relative term. I can walk up to 7th Street to meet a friend for dinner, but walking home alone at night is a risk. And although walking from one place to another within Melville is easy, traveling on foot from Melville to any of the nearby suburbs — Parkview, Emmerentia, Greenside etc. — is a mission.
Melville is walkable, but the walkers need a little help. That’s where e-tuktuk comes in.
An e-tuktuk and its driver, Matthews.
I was introduced to this mode of transport in India, where tuktuks are called auto-rickshaws. I find these little vehicles to be quite charming and exhilarating. So when I heard tuktuks were coming to Melville, I could hardly contain my excitement. What a perfectly quirky (and eco-friendly) addition to my quirky suburb.
The e-tuktuk service is headquartered at Picobella restaurant on 4th Avenue, and runs anywhere within a 5-km radius. This radius encompasses Rosebank, the University of Johannesburg and Witts University campuses, Parkhurst, Parktown and all the other “Park” suburbs, and of course anywhere within Melville and Westdene. The fare is R10 (just over $1) per person per trip within Melville, R20 per trip for the surrounding area.
The service started a few weeks ago and seems to be quickly gaining in popularity. I took my virgin e-tuktuk ride last weekend. I arranged to have the tuktuk fetch me at the Lucky 5 Star and drive me to my favorite shopping strip in Parkview.
There was some confusion with my address and the tuktuk was 30 minutes late. But all was forgiven when Matthews pulled up at the door. His arrival generated lots of excitement.
It’s hard not to smile when encountering an e-tuktuk, as Lucky proves in this photo. Horst, my landlord, also came out for a look.
I boarded and we were off. Matthews and I chatted away. He was very friendly and seemed unperturbed by the larger, faster vehicles zooming past us. At one point his phone rang and he asked me to answer it for him.
Taking photos in a moving tuktuk is more difficult than I expected.
When we reached a quieter street, I whipped out my iPad for some Instagramming.
We were overtaken by a child on a bicycle. How embarrassing.
Cruising past the Parkview mielie lady.
We arrived in Parkview, where I alighted from my chariot to run some errands.
Tyrone Avenue, Parkview.
My favorite Parkview shop.
Matthews was waiting patiently when I returned 30 minutes later.
My moving tuktuk photography improved marginally on the ride home.
Tuktuk driver Instagram.
Matthews dropped me back at my door. All in all it was a fun, successful trip, and I’ll definitely call upon the e-tuktuks again. Hopefully they’ve got my address right.
Bye bye, tuktuk.
Contact e-tuktuk at 082 695 0211, or [email protected].